September 14, 2020
JazzArts Charlotte will debut nine new online jazz workshops for students and adults beginning the week of September 21. The six- to 12-week workshops will cover a variety of topics ranging from jazz appreciation, improvisation, basic fundamentals, and more.
“Education is key,” said Lonnie Davis, CEO of JazzArts Charlotte. “The goal is to keep jazz music alive here in Charlotte through education because as long as we as a community are able to produce the next professional musicians, we will be building on a heritage in a culture that is already here, working to enrich the community.”
Originally from the jazz hotbed of New Orleans, Davis has seen Charlotte’s interest in jazz arts and culture grow over the last 14 years. For over a decade, JazzArts Charlotte has held its own academy for young students– working with middle and high schoolers, and recently preschoolers– to uphold a musical genre that Davis calls a “great American art form.” Essential to that mission was year-round, in-person instruction, but with the onset of COVID-19 in the spring, the program was forced to pause until now.
The new online youth workshops will replace the need for in-person meetings and provide an opportunity to pick up where the spring session left off. Classes are a mixture of jazz history and specific techniques to employ through vocals and instruments like the guitar and the drums. Teaching the classes are professional local musicians like Lovell Bradford and Tim Scott Jr., well versed in their respective disciplines but also in educating others. Davis sees the blend of instructor experience and the diverse curriculum as beneficial to students even beyond music.
“Not only are students learning jazz, but they’re learning other skills along the way…they’re learning all types of social skills, because of the communication that needs to take place, between band members, and they’re getting self-confidence,” Davis said. “That will stick with them for the rest of their lives, making the young people more well-rounded adults.”
Online jazz workshops for adults will also be offered, a first for JazzArts. In addition to the jazz vocals and instrument options, adults will have opportunities to learn about jazz history and theory. One specific class is “Jazz Appreciation: The Year 1959,” taught by Dr. Kelsey Klotz, a lecturer in UNC Charlotte’s Department of Arts & Architecture. Davis has wanted to pursue adult workshops for a while, even before the pandemic, but she says that these classes are especially crucial now.
“Many folks have a little bit of extra time on their hands, and they are looking for ways to grow personally, and so exploration of music, and having an outlet for expression, I think is a very important thing during this time,” Davis said. “Now is a perfect time for adults to be able to step out of their comfort zone.”
For student and adult workshops, fall session tuition ranges from $100 to $250, but JazzArts will offer first-come-first-serve financial aid scholarships covering up to 90% of the cost. To qualify, you can go to JazzArts Charlotte’s website and fill out the scholarships and financial aid form provided. From there, support will be offered based on a sliding scale, but even if you aren’t able to qualify for aid, Davis says that JazzArts will try to remain flexible to work around any budgetary needs.
“We do not want there to be any barriers between anyone wanting to learn music, so we do encourage everyone who may be interested, no matter what the circumstances are, to go ahead and reach out,” Davis said.